Roland Garros: Saturday practice pictures

Some pictures from Rafael Nadal’s practice session on Saturday.

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Dominic Thiem ends Rafael Nadal’s 17-win streak in Rome triumph

(Eurosport) – Seven-time champion Rafael Nadal is out of the Italian Open after a straight-set defeat by Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals. It is Rafa’s first defeat of the season on clay and only the third and fourth sets that he has dropped on clay across the entire season. It also brings to an end Rafa’s run of 17 straight victories.

The Austrian was dominant in the opening set as he raced into a 5-1 lead. Rafa regained some composure and managed to fight back to 5-4 but he couldn’t prevent Thiem taking the set. The pair served out the opening six games of the second but Rafa found a break and hold in the seventh and eighth to open up a 5-3 lead. He then break Rafa’s service game again to secure a memorable victory.

Source: Eurosport

Rafael Nadal through in Rome after Nicolas Almagro retires

(AP) — Rafael Nadal’s winning streak was extended to 16 matches when Nicolas Almagro retired in the first set on Wednesday at the Italian Open.

Rafa was leading 3-0, 15-30 when Almagro bent over and grasped his left knee. Our champ went over to Almagro’s side of the net to ask what was wrong and consoled his opponent. Almagro then got some medical attention at his chair but quickly retired from the second-round match.

Rafa has won consecutive clay-court tournaments in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid. He’s aiming for an eighth title at the Foro Italico as he prepares for the French Open, which starts in less than two weeks.

Rafa will next face either 13th-seeded Jack Sock or Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic.

Source: The Associated Press

Rafael Nadal has arrived in Rome

Rafael Nadal has arrived in Rome for the 2017 Italian Open. Our champ was welcomed by fans on Monday afternoon. He will play Nicolas Almagro in the second round on Wednesday.

PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal defeats Dominic Thiem for fifth Madrid title

Rafael Nadal clinched his 72nd  career title when he beat Austrian Dominic Thiem 7-6(8), 6-4 in the Madrid Open final on Sunday. It was his 52nd career title on his favored surface. 

With Ronaldo, Javi Fernandez and Carolina Marin watching on, Rafa claimed a record-equalling 30th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown.

Rafa edged Thiem in the tie-break of a tense first set that lasted one hour and 18 minutes. He broke the Austrian early in the second set to set up the win.

Rafa will be confirmed as the new world number four, replacing 18-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, when the new rankings come out on Monday.

Our champ became the first player to win five Madrid titles, adding to his victories in 2005 (d. Ljubicic), 2010 (d. Federer), 2013 (d. Wawrinka) and 2014 (d. Nishikori). It is his third ATP trophy of the season, having triumphed in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona.

PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal beats Novak Djokovic to reach Madrid Open final

Four-time champion Rafael Nadal advanced through to the final of the Madrid Open this afternoon courtesy of a 6-2, 6-4 victory over former world number one Novak Djokovic.

There was a huge difference between Rafa and his opponent from Serbia in the quality of tennis during the opening set in the Spanish capital. Djokovic started playing much better in the second set, but thankfully not good enough to steal Rafa’s momentum in front of his adoring Spanish fans.

Rafa won his last Madrid Open title in 2014 when Kei Nishikori retired hurt in the final, and our champ went on to claim a record-extending ninth French Open title. He will face either Dominic Thiem or Pablo Cuevas in Sunday’s final.

More to follow…

PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal to face Novak Djokovic after Madrid Open win over David Goffin

(AP) – Rafael Nadal booked a semi-final clash with Novak Djokovic at the Madrid Open after a comfortable last-eight win over David Goffin on Friday.

Rafa took just under two hours to see off the Belgian 7-6(3), 6-2 and move closer to a third straight title after wins in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

But if he is to progress Rafa must get the better of Djokovic, who eased into the semi-finals after scheduled opponent Kei Nishikori withdrew with a wrist injury.

Our champ claimed the first break in the second game of the second set and maintained his recent momentum to earn what was ultimately a comfortable win.

After the match, Rafa said:

It was a beautiful game, we both played at the very highest level and there were great points for everyone to see.

He (Goffin) demands the most of you, he’s one of the best in the world, one of the candidates to win the most important trophies.

I knew I was playing well in the first set but I just couldn’t take my chances. Winning is very important but also the way I’m playing at the moment makes me very relaxed.

Source: AP